King County Metro will tow drivers who repeatedly use park-and-ride space for nontransit use or who park outside marked stalls at Eastgate, Kingsgate, Redmond and Northgate stations.

Share story

After years of letting park-and-ride users bend the rules, King County Metro has decided to crack down.

Transit staff will patrol the Eastgate, Kingsgate, Redmond and Northgate bus stations and order a tow truck to remove vehicles that are repeatedly parked for nontransit purposes.

Once enforcement begins June 12, drivers will get two warnings and their cars will be towed on the third violation, Metro announced this week. This policy would apply to drivers who use transit lots to park all day near their work offices, or while shopping, for instance.

However, cars parked in a fire lane will be immediately towed.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., NHL Seattle, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and Seattle Children’s hospital. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

Learn more about Traffic Lab » | Follow us on Twitter »

It will remain legal for solo drivers to park at Metro stations to meet up with carpools, Metro spokesman Scott Gutierrez said.

Metro estimates 5 percent of drivers who use its parking lots aren’t riding transit, but hogging hundreds of the region’s 25,000-plus spaces for other purposes. Among other rules, it’s typically illegal to park more than 24 hours at a transit station.

The biggest park-and-ride stations routinely fill. At least 33 of them are more than 90 percent filled, and several run out of space before 8 a.m.

Demand will increase soon, especially at the 1,400-stall Eastgate garage, when the 519-stall South Bellevue park-and-ride closes May 30 to make room for Eastside light-rail construction.

The new policy might actually decrease capacity where people park outside of striped rows, or in the dirt near the entrances — official reports say Kingsgate in north Kirkland is “114%” occupied.

Community Transit has found Lynnwood and Ash Way park-and-ride stations filled in recent months, and responded by repainting some curbs to add more than 20 spaces at Ash Way, and by ticketing or towing cars that are improperly parked, spokesman Martin Munguia said.

Parking is so tight, that even county Councilmember Dave Upthegrove of Des Moines says he’ll give up using Sound Transit’s 1,050-stall Angle Lake Station garage, after failing to find a space at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Upthegrove said he will revert to driving downtown and pay for parking there — until Metro launches its Des Moines commuter shuttle to Angle Lake and a new business park on South 216th Street, later this year.

The recently-approved Sound Transit 3 measure calls for 8,560 more spaces between 2024 and 2041. Transit agencies are dabbling with other ideas, such as selling cheap, reserved stalls for carpoolers transferring to transit, or promoting paid park-ride spaces on private property next to bus lines. Long-term, politicians have talked about charging daily fees at transit-owned garages.

Information in this article, originally published May 24, 2017, was corrected May 25, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that solo drivers would not be allowed to park at King County Metro Transit stations to meet up with carpools. That use will still be permitted.